Much has been written and said about Sinclair Lewis' leading lady, Carol Kennicott, of Main Street. She is Lewis himself in feminine guise, as he admitted in 1922: ". . . always groping for something she isn't capable of obtaining, always dissatisfied . . . intolerant of her surroundings, yet lacking any clearly defined vision of what she wants to do or be."
Trapped by tradition and by the complacency of Gopher Prairie citizens, Carol turns from one bright scheme of civic improvement to another, hardly ever pursuing a project to its fulfillment. She is easily discouraged and feels her own inadequacy. When she learns through Vida Sherwin of the neighbors' criticism, Carol is crushed. To Guy Pollock, she is one who will, in time, become infected, as he did, with the "Village Virus," for which there is no cure. To the members of the Jolly Seventeen and to other conservatives, she is a highbrow, impractical and maladjusted, a misfit in the group. According to Mark Schorer, Lewis did not regard Carol's education and culture as "bogus," though many readers of today consider it so. Compared with most other adults of the same social class in Gopher Prairie, Carol was both sophisticated and well read. Her background was of the city, not of the small town. As the daughter of a judge, she had been brought up in a home where cultural reading was a habit. It was natural that she should rebel against the stuffiness and lack of beauty of life in Gopher Prairie.
In the end, Carol felt that though she had lost the battle, she would eventually win the war. The generation then in the cradle would have made undreamed-of changes in the world before the year 2000. The spirit of revolt would carry on.